Langara cafeteria staff face reduced hours

Chartwells has cut the employees' hours due to lower sales numbers

Students line up in Langara's cafeteria, which is operated by Chartwells. Photo by Missy Johnson
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Reported by Missy Johnson

The already long lines in the cafeteria are likely here to stay, due to a reduction in staff’s hours.

Lower than expected sales have led the college’s food services provider, Chartwells, to cut employees’ hours by about 30 to 60 minutes per person each day.

Laura Preissl, manager of the Langara Starbucks who is also acting as Chartwells’ kitchen manager, said normally hours are cut after the May long weekend when sales slow down. Preissl said this year’s lower sales could be attributed to a number of factors, such as snow days or students being short on cash.

One cafeteria worker, who has been at Langara for decades, told The Voice that she was surprised her hours were cut.

The worker, who asked to remain unidentified for fear of reprisals from management, said she thought her hours were cut because she spoke out against treatment towards employees.

When The Voice tried to speak to cafeteria workers, reporters were told not to “harass” staff by Rizwan Bandali, director of food services at Langara.

“Things are burning, things are spilling and my ladies are standing out here talking to you,” Bandali said.

Bandali told The Voice to get comment from Compass Group Canada, the Mississauga-based food service company that oversees Chartwells.

Stephanie Baxter, director of communications at Compass Group Canada, also asked The Voice to stop speaking to cafeteria workers.

“You’re putting them in a very awkward spot when you go and try to interview them,” Baxter said.

Tim Hortons, which is also run by Chartwells, moved from coffee service to offering full meals at the end of last school year. Preissl said the main cafeteria’s sales could be down as a result.

“It’s taken a lot away from Starbucks as well,” Preissl said.

Preissl said that hours have been cut in all cafeteria services, including Tim Hortons, but a woman who works at Tim Hortons said that hours have not been reduced in the restaurant. The woman, who declined to give her name, said that some Tim Hortons staff are working overtime.

Chartwells employees who are trained in the main cafeteria are not trained to work in Tim Hortons, so staff whose hours have been reduced can’t pick up extra work there, Preissl said.

Langara health sciences student, Mehtab Kaur, said she’s noticed that things are quieter these days at the cafeteria compared to last semester.

“It’s less busy now,” she said.

Despite some students seeing quieter times at the cafeteria, others complain of long lineups.

“All the times I’ve come here, it’s always busy,” said psychology student, Rena Dacua.

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